Working in Canada

If you are an international student and you want to work in Canada, you need to follow certain regulations and may require a work permit. Find out what rules to follow and, if needed, how to get a work permit.

Permits required to work in Canada

Work experience can help you prepare for your career, gain exposure to the Canadian workplace, earn extra money, and form a closer connection to the local community.

As an international student, there are several types of work you can do in Canada. Some of them will require applying for a specific work permit.

Work permits

On-campus work: Conditions you have to meet

You do not need a work permit in order to work on campus while attending UBC, as your study permit gives you permission to work unlimited hours on-campus as long you are enrolled in full-time studies.

However, if your on-campus work is for co-op or an internship required by your program, you must have a co-op work permit.

On-campus work

Off-campus work: Conditions you have to meet

Students in degree, diploma or certificate programs do not need a work permit to work off campus while attending UBC, as your study permit gives you permission to work off campus as long as you are enrolled in full-time studies.

Off-campus work

Co-op placement or internships: Permits required

You will need a Co-op work permit if the work is integral to your academic program.

Co-op or internship work permit

Volunteer (unpaid) or work that's NOT integral to your academic program: Conditions

Some volunteer positions and internships (paid or unpaid) may be considered work by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If your volunteer position or internship is considered work, you must have the right work authorization before you start.

IRCC’s definition of work

Working after graduation

If you are considering working after graduation you may want to consider a post-graduation work permit.

Post-graduation work permit

Work for spouse or common-law partner

If you are an international student studying full-time with a valid study permit, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for an open work permit.

Work permit for your spouse or partner

Medical exams

Work in agriculture-related fields, public health, or health sciences

If you plan to work in agriculture-related fields, health care, or another field that brings you into close contact with children or the elderly, you will need a medical exam conducted by an IRCC-approved panel physician. The doctor will send the full results to IRCC automatically. Ask the doctor for a copy of your medical exam report (referred to as your ‘e-medical’) and submit it with your new permit application.

Include a letter of explanation asking specifically for your work permit to indicate that you may work in these occupations. You cannot start the position until you have received a study or work permit with appropriate conditions.

Starting your own business

If you would like to start your own business in British Columbia, please consult Small Business BC. Please note International Student Advising cannot provide assistance.

Other types of work permits

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to apply for other types of work permits. Please visit the IRCC website to learn about your options. 

If you would like more information on other types of work permits you can contact IRCC or find an authorized immigration representative for advice. 

Mexican and U.S. citizens with a bachelor’s or licenciatura

Certain fields may be eligible for a NAFTA work permit. Our office does not advise on eligibility for work permits under NAFTA, but detailed information can be found on the IRCC website.

Take time away from studies

If you are no longer studying full-time, you are no longer eligible to work. There are other potential impacts to be aware of as well if taking time away from studies. 

Take time away from studies

Find work

Get help

International Student Advising

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
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